Sous vide pork belly is an absolute game changer. The immersion circulator allows you to make perfectly juicy and tender belly, every single time. Time to say goodbye to the days of dry pork, and hello to pork cooked exactly how you want it.
In this recipe, we will walk you through everything you need to know to make the best pork belly of your life. From determining how long to sous vide pork belly, to whether you can cook frozen pork belly, this recipe has it all.
An essential part of cooking sous vide is putting ingredients in an air-tight bag or container. The two most common techniques to package your ingredients are vacuum sealing and using the water displacement method.
A vacuum sealer removes all the air and seals the contents of a plastic bag through a vacuum. This process ensures the food is airtight and properly sealed, and prevents the bag from floating which can result in uneven cooking. If you are in the market for a vacuum sealer, I'd recommend the Anova sealer.
The displacement method is a technique where you first place your food and marinades in a sous vide bag, submerge the bag in a container of water, and allow the pressure to force all the air out of the bag.
Either method works for pork belly. Note that if you are adding a marinade in the bag, please make sure your vacuum sealer is capable of sealing liquids. If not, please use the displacement method.
Time and Temperature
The time and temperature guide below is the product of years of extensive testing, and will take the guesswork out of cooking sous vide. Simply select a temperature based on your desired doneness, then determine the length of the cook based on your texture preference.
Pork Belly Sous Vide Time and Temp
|Tender, steak-like texture||154F / 68C||24 hours|
|Perfectly tender and juicy||165F / 74C||10 hours|
|Succulent braise-like texture||176F / 80C||7 hours|
Our personal favorite is cooking the pork belly at 74C/165F for 10 hours. Cooking the meat for this duration breaks down the connective tissue (collagen), which results in an extremely tender belly. Also, cooking it at a temperature of 165F is the sweet spot for juicy, delicious pork belly.
Although this combination of time and temperature is our favorite, we recommend you explore different combinations to find your personal favorite. Our cooking guide can always help you find your perfect time and temperature.
Can You Sous Vide Frozen Pork Belly?
The quick answer is, absolutely! Cooking frozen foods sous vide is an ultra convenient, safe way to prepare your protein. Just take the food directly from the freezer, repackage it (unless you know the bag is sous vide safe) and let the sous vide work its magic.
Generally the only thing you’ll need to adjust is the cook time. However, since we are already cooking the pork belly sous vide for 10 or more hours there is no need to add on any additional time.
Recommended Searing Methods for Pork Belly
Searing is by far the most important step in cooking sous vide. If want your food to look like it is Michelin star quality, you need to get a rich sear on it. Failing to do so will make your dinner guests wonder why they let you cook again.
If you want an amazing sear, you’ve got to:
1. Pat the meat completely dry with a paper towel.
2. Season generously with salt or seasoning of your choice
3. Sear at extremely high temperatures.
The first step is especially important with pork belly. Since the fat layer retains a lot of liquid during the sous vide process, make sure it is completely dry if you want it crispy.
Pro tip: salting the fat layer helps extract the moisture in the fat. Continue patting dry with paper towels to ensure majority of moisture is gone before seasoning.
At this point you want to determine the best searing method. For pork belly, we suggest pan searing, broiling or using a searing torch.
The trick is getting the pan, broiler and torch extremely hot, then searing fat side down (or up if using a broiler or torch) for a few minutes, until crispy. You could even make pork belly burnt ends this way.
This results in a quick, high-quality sear without drying out the belly.
Top Sous Vide Pork Belly Recipes
Char Siu Pork Belly - This is one of our favorite (if not our favorite) recipes on this website, and a must try for anyone. The delectable char siu marinade goes masterfully with the pork belly to create an irresistible flavor profile.
Pork Belly Adobo - In this dish, it’s all about the adobo sauce. The combination of vinegar and soy sauce are like yin and yang, and unite harmoniously into a delicious sauce. Pair this with juicy sous vide pork belly and you'll be in heaven.
- Japanese Pork Belly Chashu - This sous vide pork belly chashu is absolutely perfect for your homemade ramen. The Japanese inspired marinade pairs with the tender, juicy pork belly and is the ramen topping of your dreams.
Sous Vide Machine – This one is obvious. To cook sous vide, you’re going to need a device to precisely regulate the temperature of the bath water. The two best sous vide machines in the game right now are the Anova Precision Cooker and the Breville Joule.
The main difference between the two is that with the Anova you can control the device both manually and with a mobile device, and with the Joule you can only control the device by using your mobile device. Either way, both sous vide machines are top class and you can’t go wrong with either choice.
12-quart Container – Although you can use a basic stockpot for your sous vide cooking needs, I highly recommend buying a large plastic container. They are inexpensive and spacious, so you won’t have to worry about cooking a big roast in a small pot. I recommend a 12 quart Rubbermaid container, as it is BPA free, sturdy, and large enough for just about anything you will be cooking.
Container Lid – If you are going to buy a plastic container, I highly suggest buying a compatible lid for it. When you sous vide for a long duration, the heat of the water causes evaporation. With a lid, it eliminates a majority of the evaporation so you can cook for hours care-free.
Cast Iron Skillet – Want to take your searing game to the next level? We recommend investing in a cast iron skillet. By using a cast iron in this recipe, you’ll achieve a deep sear on the protein. Cast irons are also extremely handy for searing just about any and all sous vide meat. Lodge offers the best quality and price, which is why it is our favorite cast iron brand.
Next Level Sous Vide –Looking to take your sous vide skills to the next level? The Next Level Sous Vide eCookbook will push your culinary boundaries with 65 delicious recipes that are equally approachable and tasty. With pro tips and a detailed explanation of the sous vide process, you will be on your way to maximize your sous vide skills.
Check out our full list of recommended gear here.
The Best Sous Vide Pork Belly Recipe
- 1 -2 lbs pork belly, skin removed
- salt and pepper
Set sous vide machine to 74C/165F.
Generously season pork belly with salt. Place pork in freezer bag, and remove the air through a vacuum sealer or the displacement method. Drop the bag in the bath for 10 hours.
Remove bag from bath. Take pork belly out of the bag, pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper (or seasoning) to taste.
Heat up large skillet on high and add oil. Sear pork belly fat side down for 2 to 3 minutes, or until crispy. Flip and sear each side for one minute. Remove from pan, and place on a plate to rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, slice, serve and enjoy!